Sara-Jane Dunn

Postdoctoral Researcher

In 2007 I graduated with a Masters in Mathematics (MMath) from the University of Oxford, just prior to joining the Life Sciences Interface Doctoral Training Centre, also based in Oxford, to commence my DPhil. The first year of my graduate study was spent completing an intensive course of interdisciplinary training in preparation for research at the boundary of mathematics, computing and biology. My DPhil research was focused on the development of a novel computational model of the intestinal crypt - designed to facilitate investigation and identification of the breakdown of the system dynamics that precede the onset of colorectal cancer.  

I am now a postdoctoral researcher within the Biological Computation group at Microsoft Research.

Research Interests: 

Stemming from my work as a DPhil student, I am interested in single cell and cell population dynamics, and in particular, how the dynamics are determined by the decisions that cells make based on internal and external cues. This extends to an understanding of the control of systems that carry out precise functions: the balance which is necessary to maintain system homeostasis, and how this function can be disrupted. (For example, how do the intestinal crypts continually replenish the epithelial surface and what is necessary for this process to be maintained; but also, what needs to go wrong for a malignant tumour to grow.)

This has lead me to my current work with Prof. Stephen Emmott and Dr. Andrew Phillips at Microsoft Research, focused on the development of a theory of computation within cells. This work is motivated by the hypothesis that every function performed by a cell is a computation, whereby the cell processes information taken in from its environment in order to make a behavioural decision. By asking questions about what cells do and why, such a perspective can lend insight into a deeper understanding of how cells work.

Contact Email: 
sara-jane [dot] dunn [at] microsoft [dot] com